Ashford’s ground breaking friendly against a side from Tianjin in China went ahead on Thursday evening and it proved to be an exceptionally enjoyable experience.  Although Ben Murray only fielded 3 players from the 1st Team squad, the team he put out was too strong for the visitors who played some intricate football at times but struggled defensively, eventually leading to a win for the Tangerines by 10 goals to 2.

The result though was largely immaterial:  it was the event that mattered and the visitors seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves, especially after the match when both Chinese and English food was laid on for them and they all enjoyed a pint of English beer, with more than one of them coming back for a second.  Great thanks go to sports travel agent Jack Cheng, fluid in both English and Chinese for arranging things in the first place.  There is every chance that he may arrange a similar visit next year, possibly with a view to playing at least two matches against other clubs local to Ashford.

For the record, Ashford’s goals were scored as follows:  Elliott Poley, Jabir Laraba x 4, Max Webb, Nathan Pooley, Joe Brazil, Cameron Richardson, Matt Surmon.  Seven came in the 1st half.  Scorers for Tianjin, for the record were:  Ma Wei, with arguably the best goal on the night as he ran past three defenders before crashing home, and Han Lei, from the penalty spot.

Jabir Laraba emphasised his credentials for a 1st Team spot with four goals, whilst Max Webb only scored one but an absolute thunderbolt.  Yaya El-Kabouche also played after his two match suspension and Will Boye also returned, having just signed for Ashford again.  Rumanian triallist Alex Petrescu also played as did Charlie Cahill, whose International Clearance has now come through.

The second half saw large numbers of Ashford’s Under-18 Ryman squad introduced and all gave a good account of themselves.

It’s back to the serious stuff now and we look forward to the visit of Spartan South Midlands League Club, Wembley on Saturday in the Preliminary Round of the FA Cup, kick-off 3.00 p.m.  The match programmre for the game can be read by clicking here.

Under FA rules we have to charge everyone tomorrow, including season ticket holders.  If the scores are level on 90 minutes, there will not be extra time but a replay at Wembley on Tuesday evening.

Apart from the ongoing holiday absence of Russell Canderton, Ben Murray has no injury worries that the writer is aware of, so the team should be more or less at full strength for what will not be an easy match.  Wembley finished in 4th place in their Step 5 league last season, and beat Windsor in the previous round this season by 4 goals to one.  In the League, they have drawn one and lost one to date, both at home.